New Delhi: Facebook-owned instant messaging service WhatsApp may have just recently instituted forwarding limits in its war against fake news and hoaxes, but the company says that it's already seeing results.

The company said that the spread of, what they refer to as, ‘highly forwarded messages’ sent on the platform has dropped by 70% globally in the weeks after the new limit was introduced.

The limiting of these messages has been one of WhatsApp’s core feature changes. Now, users of the platform can forward a viral message to only one other person or group, instead of the usual five. This restriction was rolled out globally to WhatsApp’s 2-billion users on 7 April.

“We recently introduced a limit to sharing ‘highly forwarded messages’ to just one chat. Since putting into place this new limit, globally there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp,” said a company spokesperson.

A similar limit was introduced by the company in 2018 when it restricted users from forwarding a message to more than five people or groups at once. The company announced that message forwards on its service had dropped by 25% globally in two years while revealing its latest limiter.

“This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations. WhatsApp is committed to doing our part to tackle viral messages,” says the spokesperson.

It is believed that this cut in viral forwards should aid WhatsApp in assuaging the scrutiny it has been receiving as of late in many countries, including its largest market – India.

The country has been asking WhatsApp among other social media companies in the last month to do more to control the circulation of viral hoaxes and fake news on their platforms – especially about the novel coronavirus and the ongoing pandemic.

This is the latest of several similar advisories India has sent to social media firms operating in the country.

WhatsApp said earlier this month that it had seen a “significant” surge in the “amount of forwarding” in recent weeks that “users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation.”

WhatsApp’s parent firm, Facebook, has taken several efforts in recent months to help users in many countries share authorised information about the coronavirus pandemic.